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Gridics Featured in US Conference of Mayors Best Practices Report

The following text is taken from the United States Conference of Mayors Business Council 2021 Best Practices Report. To view the full report, please navigate here:

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How Gridics & the City of Miami, FL Revolutionized Zoning Transparency

Project Description: Zoning regulations are difficult for staff, citizens, and developers to understand and interpret at the individual property level. This leads to bottlenecks in development approvals, increases staff time to service daily questions from citizens, and causes a lack of transparency around solving housing, resiliency, and sustainability challenges.

Together with the City of Miami’s Planning and Zoning Departments, Gridics developed a comprehensive zoning management platform that has been in use across the City since 2016. At the heart of the Gridics platform is its patented zoning calculation engine that combines measurable zoning regulations as outlined in the code with GIS parcel analysis to calculate over 30 data points about every parcel in the city. Once calculated, the city has a foundational zoning property record data set that heretofore has never existed at scale.

Sitting on top of this data is the Gridics zoning information platform which integrates citizen self service tools, realtime code publishing, site analysis, and 3D mapping technology that makes it easy for cities to better service citizens and make smarter planning decisions.

City Challenge: The City of Miami and Gridics have been focused on the overarching goal of translating zoning regulations to the parcel level to make it easier for all to interpret, analyze, and understand. Zoning is too complicated and should promote — not impede — sustainable, equitable development. Addressing these challenges has defined the Gridics partnership from day one.

Additional pain points the Gridics platform solves for the City of Miami include:

  • Front counter inquiries: Providing virtual citizen self service tools to look up parcel specific zoning attributes
  • Outdated online code: Real-time staff editing allows code text updates in seconds, not weeks
  • Development backlogs: Streamlining the plan review process
  • Affordable Housing: Visualizing the effect of zoning and housing capacity based on policy levers in a 3D map
  • Long Range Planning: Visualizing proposed zoning changes to make data driven decisions

Impact: Use of the Gridics platform delivers value to 6 different divisions within the City of Miami (Planning, Zoning, Building & Permitting, GIS, Information Technology and Economic Development) and drives thousands of dollars in cost savings each month.

The following are just a few of the many concrete process improvements:

  • 60% decrease in citizen calls, emails, & visits to the planning/zoning front counter
  • Up to 9 hours of staff time saved PER plan review
  • Over 5,000 visits per month to online Gridics zoning resources
  • Real-time code updates across text, maps, and self-service tools as soon as zoning changes are approved by City Commission compared to 6+ months delay prior

In addition to these efficiency improvements, Gridics delivers an intangible impact that is arguably the most important of all: making zoning accessible for everyone.

How-To: The Gridics zoning management platform was developed in close collaboration with City of Miami staff starting in 2016. The partnership began with questions… What aspect of zoning management is most cumbersome for staff? How could we make zoning easier for the public to understand? Which tools might encourage equitable real estate development in the private sector?

From there, the focus then turned towards building technology tools to address these challenges:

  1. Creating a mathematical rules engine to digitize the City of Miami’s zoning code
  2. Applying those rules to the 3D built environment
  3. Testing the code calibration with City staff and developers
  4. Developing a plan review application to interact with the digital zoning code
  5. Molding the Gridics platform into three integrated applications (ZoneCheck, CodeHUB, and MuniMap)
  6. Promoting the platform for widespread use among the private sector

From conception to implementation, the project took approximately 12 months. Over the following 4 years, the Gridics platform has grown to encompass millions of real estate data points across the City of Miami and handle thousands of web visits per month to its 3 applications.

General Tips: The beauty of the Gridics zoning platform lies in its scalability and flexibility. While building the rules engine for the City of Miami, the platform was engineered to handle both form-based and Euclidean zoning codes (metric and imperial conversions) for dense urban cities and suburban environments alike.

Miami proved to be the perfect development partner thanks to its new form-based code and unprecedented growth, however, Gridics can be leveraged just as easily in smaller municipalities. Cities large and small can now take advantage of a modern cloud based app and data platform that would cost millions for any city to develop on their own.

Budget: $60,000 Per Year for platform license, support & maintenance

Funding: General Purpose City Funds

City of Miami Gridics Screens, USCM Best Practices Report

Rogers Implementing Self-Service Zoning Technology (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

By Janelle Jessen | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | September 30, 2021 at 7:17am ET

Rogers, AR — The city is adopting new technology officials say will make it easier for residents to obtain zoning information about properties and increase efficiency in the Planning Division.

Rogers will be the first city in Arkansas to implement Gridics, a new technology that allows property owners, developers, elected officials and other stakeholders to look up zoning information and regulations online by address, according to Jason Doyle, president and CEO of the Florida-based company. They won’t have to travel to city hall to get such information.

Gridics will organize documents, plans and policies into a single digital platform, according to Ethan Hunter, city planner for Rogers. The self-service property information hub will allow people to understand the rules and regulations that might apply to their property or a development down the street, he said.

The technology will cost about $30,000 a year, and the city hopes to roll it out by the end of December, he said.

Historically, if community members wanted to know the zoning regulations associated with a property or what could be developed on the land, they had to look the property up on a zoning map, then read the lengthy zoning ordinance that describes what can be developed in a certain mapped zone, Doyle said.

Gridics allows people to enter an address into a search engine that provides 30 to 40 data points about a single property along with a 3D map and visualization tool that shows stakeholders current conditions as well as what could be developed on the property, Doyle said.

It can help people answer questions such as whether they may build a daycare on their property or how far their setbacks are, he said.

“Zoning is inherently confusing, and we’re trying to make it less confusing,” Doyle said.

The platform’s 3D maps help elected officials visualize how proposed zoning changes will impact how the city looks, Doyle said.

Gridics will also impact the six members of the city’s planning staff because each information request takes about 30 minutes to an hour to research, Hunter said. Whether community members call or visit the city office or use the new technology themselves, Gridics will streamline the research process to about five minutes, he said.

Cities that have already implemented Gridics report the technology has reduced calls and visits to city staff by about 60%, Doyle said. There has been an especially high demand for the platform since covid-19 caused many city employees to work from home, he said. Once city staff are freed up from answering questions, they can tackle other projects.

About 20 cities and counties in seven states have implemented Gridics, Doyle said.

Rogers’ growth and change in population brings a change in public service expectations, and Gridics offers a way to meet those, Hunter said. The new technology will help staff better serve the public without adding five new positions to the budget, he said.